Rolling Stones Make Post-Altamont Return to NYC
Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives. July 27, 1972, Vol. XVII, No. 30
Oh, the dazzle of it all By Patrick Carr
The Stones were magnificent. Everybody thought so. Thank Christ. Report on the Stones ploughing their own multi-multi-million dollar Suez Canal of rock 'n' roll, high life garbage, and Life covers across the flatlands to New York City, USA: tired but alive, still superbly capable of thrashing out the best music currently available. "Nice to be back in Noo York, Noo York," says Mick with a quick and casual stroke of the mike. "They always do best here" says Peter Rudge, tour manager on his way to bed down the staircase of the Four Seasons restaurant where we of the press had just been treated to a party to end them all. Naturally enough, everybody was there, all the way from Richard Meltzer who got thrown out to Truman Capote who didn't, but then Truman wasn't dancing on the tables.
He'd already had his fun right there onstage with the Rolling Stones, squatting on an amplifier case in fedora and sunglasses with the fabled Super Trouper light ensemble dug in like an anti-aircraft battery behind him. Oh, the dazzle of it all. But you know all that already, of course. How could you possibly avoid it? Ever since Altamont, the Stones are A-1 cover material.
Why have all Stones stories from Life to Rolling Stone been practically interchangeable? Is it the God of Journalism speaking in tongues and conferring many uniform visions? I think not; a better reason might be that big blue loose-leaf folder they give out with the press tickets.
The first Stones concert in New York since "Ya-Yas" made that heady blast sound dull by comparison. The horns helped of course, but mainly it was Mick Taylor who played a lead guitar which burned your ears off.
Production and Security have been emphasized. Production was brilliant, security unobtrusive, vibes so nice you'd almost be tempted to forget all nasty feelings about rock's only surviving juggernaut. Long live Chip Monck and the Positive Philosophy of rock representation. A feeling of great well-being surged through 20,000 fans, bouncing them all in perfect time to the rhythm of Charlie's bass drum.
"Love in Vain," their seventh number, got them fully in the groove. Until then, it had been messy. "Exile on Main Street" has partially obscured the fact that Mick can sing; the little Dervish in the white jumpsuit has one hell of a voice. He plays harp too, and dances. He whips the stage with a leather thong during "Midnight Rambler"; "Have you heard about the Boston -- WHACK!!" Chip's lights bathe him in blood red, but when the band slams into the final chorus, all the lights go on and everybody comes together. It's called balance.
Keith is all spikes from head to toe. For some, he is the most interesting Stone; he retains a sense of mystery while Mick is but a brilliant showman, Charlier a drummer, Taylor a guitarist,, and Bill a bass-playing lump.
Stevie Wonder's set was, frankly, boring for the first half hour. He hardly sang at all and his big band sounded like an amplified milk churn despite all the technical wizardry you must have heard about. But he warmed up, got it on, and won more than a few heart. After "Street Fighting Man," Mick led him back onstage and the two of them -- Mick in clinging white, Stevie in clinging black -- bounced together through "Satisfaction." Mick was all set to leave, but Stevie rallied the assembled company; he was delirious with the roar of the crowd, and he didn't want to leave. Mick washed the front row with rose petals, but when he got to the water, a cop ran for cover, smiling.
The Rolling Stones have gone. It's all over.
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.